Gund Fellow, Associate Professor, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

As a global change ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist, Carol Adair uses theory, experimentation, and quantitative methods to understand ecosystem responses to natural and anthropogenic environmental change. She believes that understanding and predicting the response of ecosystems to environmental changes is crucial for sustaining and managing important ecosystems.

Research and/or Creative Works

How and why ecosystem properties and processes respond to global changes and how these responses may feed back to amplify or diminish these changes. Combining experimental, synthetic and quantitative approaches to develop models and test hypotheses about what drives fundamental ecosystem processes like microbial respiration (decomposition).


Reich, P.B., L.E. Frelich, R. Voldseth, P. Bakken , E.C. Adair. In press/online. Linking understory diversity with productivity, resource availability and heterogeneity in southern boreal forests. Journal of Ecology.

Adair, E.C., P.B. Reich, J.J. Trost, and S.E. Hobbie. 2011. Elevated CO2 stimulates grassland soil respiration by increasing carbon inputs rather than by enhancing soil moisture. Global Change Biology 17(12):3546-3563.

Adair, E.C. and I.C. Burke. 2010. Plant phenology and life span influence soil pool dynamics: Bromus tectorum invasion of perennial C3-C4 grass communities. Plant and Soil 355(1):255-269.

Adair, E.C., S.E. Hobbie, R.K. Hobbie. 2010. Single pool exponential decomposition models: potential pitfalls in their use in ecological studies. Ecology 91(4):1225-1236.

Adair, E.C., P.B. Reich, S.E. Hobbie, J.M.H. Knops. 2009. Interactive effects of time, CO2, N, and diversity on total belowground carbon allocation and ecosystem carbon storage in a grassland community. Ecosystems 12(6):1037-1052.

Adair, E.C., W.J. Parton, S.J. Del Grosso, W.L. Silver, M.E. Harmon, S.A. Hall, I.C. Burke, S.C. Hart. 2008. A simple three pool model accurately describes patterns of long-term litter decomposition in diverse climates. Global Change Biology 14(11): 2636-2660.

Parton W., W.L. Silver, I.C. Burke, L. Grassens, M.E. Harmon, B. Currie, J. King, E.C. Adair, L. Brandt, and B. Fasth. 2007. Global-scale similarities in nitrogen release patterns during long-term decomposition. Science 315: 361-364.

Awards and Recognition

Best Paper, Session 296 of Division S-7, Soil Science Society of America Meeting. 2006

Best Graduate Research Oral Presentation, Front Range Ecology Symposium. 2001

Outstanding Environmental Science Graduate Award, Allegheny College. 1991

Associations and Affiliations

Ecological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Global change (including climate change), ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, carbon storage and cycling, and non-invasive plant invasions, modeling and statistics


  • PhD, Ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry (plant invasions) Colorado State University
  • MS, Ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry (riparian nitrogen cycling), Colorado State University,
  • BA, Environmental Science and Political Science Allegheny College


  • 802-656-2907
Office Location:

303B Aiken Center

  1. Adair Lab